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“Gone, But Not Forgotten” Genesis 25:1-11

November 16, 2014

Genesis 25:1-11

“Gone, But Not Forgotten”

 

Children’s Sermon:  Who are some people you don’t see anymore but remember?

What do you remember about them?  Abraham has been gone from this life a long time, but we still remember him.  We’ve been talking about him for many weeks in church.  And at XFA this week we even sang a song about him.  What can you tell me about him?

 

Two things we’ll look at today are that Abraham was known to be a man who lived in a right relationship with God and he was known to be God’s friend.  These are two goals we can have.  What might it meant to live in a right relationship with God?  How do you get to be God’s friend?

 

Let’s pray that we can do these things.

 

 

Intro:  Today we read the final installment in the story of Abraham’s life. 

READ Genesis 25:1-11.

 

There’s not much to preach on there.  We notice that he remarried and this second wife, Keturah, gave him six sons.  He was busy in his old age.  He was over 127 when he began this new family!  We notice that besides Hagar, he had had other concubines who had also given him sons.  And to these sons, he gave an early inheritance and sent them away from his most cherished son, Isaac. 

 

Ishmael and Isaac bury their father together in the same place Abraham had buried Sarah.  And this story concludes with the assurance that God blessed Isaac.  We’ll come back to Isaac sometime in the new year.

 

Abraham is gone, but not forgotten.  There are 200 mentions of Abraham in the rest of Scripture.  Gone, but not forgotten.  Just as we cherish the memories of our loved ones and we quote things they said and did.  We tell their story.  We continue to be taught by their examples, so Abraham is remembered throughout Judaism and Christianity.

 

As we go through these passages, think about how Abraham’s life and legacy have impacted your own faith.  If you feel like Bible flipping this morning as our XFA kids love to do, feel free to follow along with the Scriptures mentioned here, or maybe you’d like to write them down for personal study during the week.

 

Abraham and the Covenant

Our call to worship this morning was taken from Psalm 105 which begins and ends and is based on God’s covenant promise to Abraham.  Another reference to God’s covenant with Abraham is in Luke 1:67-75 as Zechariah sings to God after the birth of his miracle son, John.  He understands that the birth of John and the coming of the Messiah are part of the covenant that God made with Abraham to save his people.  We share in that covenant as Christ came not only to redeem the lost of Israel, but extended salvation to all people.  We are recipients of the promise God made to Abraham!  Be grateful and live in gratitude for God’s saving grace that you have received.

 

Abraham’s Righteousness  (Galatians 3:6-9)

Abraham is a reference point Paul uses in confronting the church at Galatia when they had gotten off track.  It appears that they were putting their faith in obeying the law rather than in the grace that had saved them in Jesus Christ.  I think this is still a problem among believers today.  We can get lulled into thinking that if we tithe enough, serve enough, come to church just often enough, that God is pleased and will bless us and build the kingdom. 

 

Paul interrupts this train of thought by confronting the church with the fact that our righteousness (being right with God) comes not from the motions we go through but the faith and dependence we place in God.  We do not make ourselves righteous by what we do.  Read with me.

 

Take a moment to reflect on your own life.  Are there places that you are trying to accomplish a righteous life by the things you do, rather than in the redeeming work of God through Jesus Christ?  Because I’m here to tell you, that is wrong thinking.  On our own, we can accomplish good things.  But God isn’t after “good things”.  God is after life-altering, glory to Him, transforming, things to be happening in your life and mine.  Do you believe that God can do things that you can’t?  What can you trust him with today?  What can you ask him to do?  Will you?  Feel free to stay with that as we move on.

 

Abraham is called “Friend of God”  (James 2:20-24)

At first glance, this second scripture may seem to advocate for the complete opposite place of faith and works we saw in the previous passage.  Read with me. 

 

James is dealing with a church that has adopted the attitude that “if we believe, it will come”.  They were thinking that to do nothing was to let God do everything.  He is using Abraham as an example of action – but pay attention to the type of action he is praising Abraham for: He was obedient to the point of sacrificing his son.  This is not the same as coming to church, putting something in the offering plate, etc.  This is having faith that leads you to act in obedience to God, no matter what he’s asking.  Because this was Abraham’s way of life, he is called God’s friend.

 

You see the difference don’t you, between doing things to earn God’s favor and doing things in obedience to God’s call in your life?  Have you ever had a person in your life who did things for you because they were trying to buy your friendship? Perhaps they thought they had to do these things to prove their affection for you.  You would have appreciated it if they had respected your space. 

 

God calls each of us to obedience.  That is how we show our friendship to him.  We obey.  We do what the word of God says.  We give what he asks us to give, not what we think will be good enough.  We love who he says to love, not just those whom it is convenient to love.  We risk what God asks us to risk, not just what is easy.  Obedience to God will often require sacrifice, but it will always be worth it.  Through our obedience we too gain friendship with God.

 

Last week at the end of the service, I gave you some space to visit with God.  I invited you to let God tell you what your next act of obedience to him should be.  After church I heard some folks tell me that wasn’t very fun.  God gave them a task that would be a challenge, or that was confusing.  But they were game to give it a go.  Some of them are still working on it.  I’ll tell you that the word I received did not seem to make sense but I did it anyway, (or actually didn’t do what I thought I should) and God took care of it. 

 

We seem to be poised for another such reflection/conversation with God.  Where is God calling you to practice faith?  If you need some encouragement, just call Joanie Cowles!

Are you facing something that seems too big for you to handle?  What specifically do you want God to accomplish in that situation?  Do you recognize some action in your life that is merely token?  It might be showing up on Sunday morning.  It might be following through on a responsibility for someone.  How can that thing become an act of obedience rather than a task to tick off of your list?

 

Let’s spend another brief season of listening to God.  Would you approach him and ask him how you might best bring him pleasure this week?  We’ll have a brief time of silence to settle into the task, then I will lead off in prayer followed by longer silence for you to listen.